Stowaway Heroes – Trevor Horn

You probably know Trevor Horn‘s name, but you might not realise quite why. Let me give you a clue – after a few years as a session musician, he formed a group called Buggles. You’ll know them for this UK number one from 1979:

He then launched the career of Dollar, produced an ABC album, and then brought us this from Frankie Goes to Hollywood:

But for me, what makes him a stowaway hero is Left to My Own Devices, one of the most iconic songs from Pet Shop Boys:

So welcome to our mini-hall of fame, Trevor Horn! You are a stowaway hero.

Preview – ABC

I might not be ABC‘s biggest fan, but it’s fun to see them turn up again on the charts after so many years. From the new album The Lexicon of Love II, this is the new single The Flames of Desire, which comes out this week:

Chart for stowaways – 2 July 2016

These are the top albums this week:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. Clarke Hartnoll – 2Square
  3. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  4. I Monster – Bright Sparks
  5. New Order – Music Complete
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  7. David Bowie – Best of Bowie
  8. Conjure One – Holoscenic
  9. The Future Sound of London – Environment Five
  10. ABC – The Lexicon of Love II

Chart for stowaways – 18 June 2016

A few changes on the albums this week:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  3. New Order – Music Complete
  4. Clarke Hartnoll – 2Square
  5. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  6. I Monster – Bright Sparks
  7. Conjure One – Holoscenic
  8. David Bowie – Best of Bowie
  9. ABC – The Lexicon of Love II
  10. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys

The BRIT Awards 2005

On 9th February 2005, Chris Evans hosted what was billed as the 25th anniversary BRIT Awards show (history seems to prefer to pretend that the first show was in 1981, rather than 1977). The venue was Earls Court in London, and an average of 6.3 million people watched the coverage the following day on ITV.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 2004 ceremony here, and the 2006 ceremony next time.

MasterCard British Album

Presented by Clive Owen. Nominees:

  • Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
  • Keane – Hopes and Fears
  • Muse – Absolution
  • Snow Patrol – Final Straw
  • The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come for Free

Winner: Keane

Best British Single

Voted for by listeners of independent radio, and presented by Minnie Driver. Nominees:

  • Band Aid 20 – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
  • Jamelia – Thank You
  • LMC vs. U2 – Take Me to the Clouds Above
  • Shapeshifters – Lola’s Theme
  • Will Young – Your Game

Winner: Will Young

Best British Male

Presented by Naomi Harris. Nominees:

  • Jamie Cullum
  • Lemar
  • Morrissey
  • The Streets
  • Will Young

Winner: The Streets

Best British Female

Presented by Lisa Stansfield. Nominees:

  • Natasha Bedingfield
  • Jamelia
  • PJ Harvey
  • Joss Stone
  • Amy Winehouse

Winner: Joss Stone

Best British Group

Presented by Sharon and Kelly Osbourne. Nominees:

  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Kasabian
  • Keane
  • Muse
  • Snow Patrol

Winner: Franz Ferdinand

Best British Breakthrough Act

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1, and presented by Jo Whiley. Nominees:

  • Natasha Bedingfield
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Keane
  • Joss Stone
  • The Zutons

Winner: Keane

Best British Rock Act

Voted for by viewers of Kerrang TV, and presented by Brian May. Nominees:

  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Kasabian
  • The Libertines
  • Muse
  • Snow Patrol

Winner: Franz Ferdinand

Best British Urban Act

Voted for by viewers of MTV Base, and presented by Jazzy B. Nominees:

  • Dizzee Rascal
  • Jamelia
  • Lemar
  • Joss Stone
  • The Streets

Winner: Joss Stone

Best British Live Act

Voted for by The Live Music Forum, and presented by Shirley Manson from Garbage. Nominees:

  • Jamie Cullum
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Kasabian
  • The Libertines
  • Muse

Winner: Muse

Best Pop Act

Voted for by viewers of CD:UK and readers of The Sun, and presented by Jodie Kidd. Nominees:

  • Natasha Bedingfield
  • Girls Aloud
  • Avril Lavigne
  • McFly
  • Westlife

Winner: McFly

Best International Album

Presented by Siouxsie Sioux. Nominees:

  • The Killers – Hot Fuss
  • Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane
  • Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
  • Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters
  • U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

Winner: Scissor Sisters

Best International Male

Presented by Natalie Imbruglia. Nominees:

  • Eminem
  • Usher
  • Tom Waits
  • Kanye West
  • Brian Wilson

Winner: Eminem

Best International Female

Presented by Charlie Creed Miles. Nominees:

  • Anastacia
  • Kelis
  • Alicia Keys
  • Kylie Minogue
  • Gwen Stefani

Winner: Gwen Stefani

Best International Group

Nominees:

  • Green Day
  • Maroon 5
  • Outkast
  • Scissor Sisters
  • U2

Winner: Scissor Sisters

Best International Breakthrough Act

Presented by Simon Pegg. Nominees:

  • Jet
  • The Killers
  • Maroon 5
  • Scissor Sisters
  • Kanye West

Winner: Scissor Sisters

Outstanding Contribution to Music

Presented by Jools Holland.

Winner: Bob Geldof

BRITS 25 Best Song Award

Chosen by listeners of BBC Radio 2. Presented by Matt Lucas and David Walliams in character as Mark Owen and Howard Donald from Take That respectively. Nominees:

  • ABC – The Look of Love
  • Bee Gees – Night Fever
  • David Bowie – Heroes
  • Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
  • The Clash – London Calling
  • Coldplay – Yellow
  • Peter Gabriel – Sledgehammer
  • David Gray – Babylon
  • The Jam – That’s Entertainment
  • Elton John – Sacrifice
  • Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
  • Annie Lennox – Why?
  • Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
  • George Michael – Careless Whisper
  • Oasis – Wonderwall
  • Queen – We are the Champions
  • Seal – Kiss from a Rose
  • Simply Red – Holding Back the Years
  • Spandau Ballet – True
  • Rod Stewart – I Don’t Want to Talk About it
  • Sting – Fields of Gold
  • The Stranglers – Golden Brown
  • The Streets – Dry Your Eyes
  • Robbie Williams – Angels
  • Will Young – Leave Right Now

The top five entries made it from round 1 to the final list of nominees, leaving:

  • Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
  • Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
  • Queen – We are the Champions
  • Robbie Williams – Angels
  • Will Young – Leave Right Now

Winner: Robbie Williams

Performances

Further Reading / Viewing

British Rock & Pop Awards 1982-1984

Due to a fundamental failing on my part, this post was actually written several months ago, accidentally deleted, and has now been recreated for your general entertainment. In the third article in this series, we look at the final three years of this nearly-decade-long award ceremony, before the BPI Awards (later the BRITs) supplanted them.

1982

The seventh ceremony took place in February 1983, at The Lyceum in London, and were presented by Anne Diamond (see BFI record).

On 15th January, Tommy Vance and Kid Jensen voiced this promo for the awards for BBC Radio 1 (also trailed here). This confirms that the following categories were included and were open for voting: Best Female SingerBest Male SingerBest GroupBest Single, and Best Album.

Thereza Bazar of Dollar presented the Best Album award.

The winners were ABC, with The Lexicon of Love (in third place), Madness, with Complete Madness (in second), and the overall winner was Duran Duran, with Rio.

The 1983 BPI Awards can be viewed here.

1983

The eighth and final ceremony, celebrating the music of the year 1983, took place on 21st February 1984 at The Lyceum in London, and.was presented by David Jensen and Sarah Kennedy, the latter of whom, as we’ll learn, didn’t write her own script, and hopefully didn’t pick her own wardrobe either.

In the award for Best British Rock/Pop Single were True, by Spandau Ballet, in third place, and Duran Duran with Is There Something I Should Know? in second place.

The winner was Karma Chameleon, by Culture Club.

By 1985, the BPI Awards (later the BRITs) were swiftly gaining momentum, and were well on the way to becoming the definitive British music award ceremony. They were also fully televised, for the first time since 1977, effectively taking the place of the British Rock & Pop Awards. Whether that’s the reason why these awards were discontinued, or whether there’s some other reason, is long lost in the mists of time, but for comparison the 1984 BPI Awards can be viewed here.

Live – September 2014

Here are some upcoming live highlights to keep an eye out for:

Inspiral Carpets

They have few random dates coming up in the UK and Italy, if you fancy reliving the 1990s…

Full list of dates at Songkick

Étienne de Crécy

Just three dates coming up for the crazy Frenchman, and they’re all in France, but I’d predict they’re worth making an effort to go to!

Full list of dates at Songkick

ABC

Well, they aren’t too amazing live unfortunately, but you might fancy going along to the upcoming dates in The Netherlands or California.

Full list of dates at Songkick

The Orb

Not sure whether these are live or DJ dates, but you can catch them in the coming months in Lowestoft, Brighton, Oxford, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, York, Leeds, and Holmfirth.

Full list of dates at Songkick

Saint Etienne

With just one date coming up at the time of writing, at the Barbican Centre in London in a few days’ time, but undoubtedly worth checking out!

More details at Songkick

The British Record Industry Awards 1983

The third ceremony took place at Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 8th February 1983, where it was presented by Tim Rice.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 1982 ceremony here, and the 1984 ceremony in a couple of days’ time.

Since there’s not a lot of video of the 1983 ceremony, here’s some BBC coverage:

Best British Album

Nominees:

  • The Kids from Fame – The Kids from Fame
  • Madness – Complete Madness
  • Barbara Streisand – Love Songs

Winner: Barbara Streisand.

Best British Female

Nominees:

  • Sheena Easton
  • Toyah Wilcox
  • Kim Wilde
  • Mari Wilson

Winner: Kim Wilde.

Best British Group

Nominees:

  • ABC
  • Dire Straits
  • Yazoo

Winner: Dire Straits.

Best British Male

Nominees:

  • Phil Collins
  • Paul McCartney
  • Cliff Richard
  • Shakin’ Stevens

Winner: Paul McCartney.

Best British Newcomer

Nominees:

  • ABC
  • Culture Club
  • Musical Youth
  • Yazoo

Winner: Yazoo.

Best British Producer

Nominees:

  • Trevor Horn
  • Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley
  • George Martin
  • Martin Rushent

Winner: Trevor Horn.

Best British Single

Nominees:

  • Irene Cara – Fame
  • Dexys Midnight Runners – Come on Eileen
  • Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

Winner: Dexys Midnight Runners.

Best Classical Recording

Nominees:

  • Christopher Hogwood – Violin Concertos – Bach
  • Julian Lloyd Webber – Portrait – John WIlliams
  • Mariner – Symphonies 6, 7 & 8
  • Simon Rattle – Glagolitic Mass – Jacanek
  • Rodrigo – Concerto Como Un

Winner: Julian Lloyd Webber.

Best International Artist

Nominees:

  • Julio Iglesias
  • Kid Creole and The Coconuts
  • Barry Manilow

Winner: Kid Creole and The Coconuts.

Life Achievement

Winner: Pete Townshend.

Sony Trophy for Technical Excellence

Winner: Paul McCartney.

Special Award

Winner: Chris Wright.

Outstanding Contribution

Winner: The Beatles.

Performances

Unknown

Further Reading / Viewing

Edit: removed one video that is no longer available (13 August 2017).

Edit: fix links (6 January 2018).

Enigma – Voyageur

This week sees the anniversary of the release of two Enigma albums – the first we looked at yesterday; the second was ten years ago. Voyageur was their (well, strictly speaking his, for Enigma is mainly Michael Cretu) fifth album, following the first “best of” compilation which had been released a couple of years earlier.

The opening track is From East to West, which opens softly enough, working its way into the traditional wah-ha sound which had, at this point, opened every Enigma album since time began. An extremely chaotic drum beat arrives, and then the main track begins. It’s pleasant enough, but the drums are totally distracting, and out of sync with anything else you hear, leaving the end result as a bit of a mess.

The title track Voyageur comes next, and although the album version isn’t as good as some of the alternative mixes on the single, it isn’t bad. There’s a good pumping bassline, a bit of wailing from Cretu, and a bit of French whispering. In fact, monks aside, it’s got most of the ingredients of classic Enigma, but even so it falls a bit flat.

A bit of scatting is always good. If you’re recording a jazz record, which Cretu wasn’t. He also never seems to have understood that his own vocals don’t really fit his music particularly well, and hiding them under a whole load of effects doesn’t make it any more ethereal or dreamy, it just renders them incomprehensible. So all told, to call the third track Incognito a bit of a mess would be doing it rather a large favour.

Cretu has said before that he doesn’t really listen to “modern” music, and so it’s difficult to judge quite what the purpose of Voyageur was. He obviously wanted to break away from all the mediaeval chanting and whatnot of the preceding four albums, but he also seems to have struggled with the right direction, fusing pop with… well, whatever you would call this.

Page of Cups is similar – it’s got some pleasant elements, but it’s also entirely pointless and doesn’t really go anywhere in particular. Not only that, but it fails to go anywhere over a duration of seven minutes. That’s a lot of filler, even for a chillout album!

Boum Boum, with vocals by Cretu’s long-term collaborator Ruth Ann Boyle (formerly off of Olive) is probably the closest this album gets to a pop song, and despite the rather vacuous lyrics it’s pretty good too. Of course, the Chicane remix on the single the following year was considerably better, but the original is certainly the best track on the first half of the album.

After that it’s back to being lousy. Total Eclipse of the Moon is a brilliant Enigma title, and also one of the worst tracks he’s ever recorded. Fortunately it’s pretty short, although the ending does make it sound as though he just got bored half way through writing it (I wouldn’t blame him). Then Look of Today, in which Cretu seems to narrowly avoid accidentally covering ABC‘s The Look of Love, is a little better, but not a lot. Its bass line does make up for some of its other failings, such as the vocal, the lyrics, the melody, the manic drumming, and… well… the entire rest of the song.

Another experiment Cretu tried with this album was with the packaging – the booklet is largely round, which is certainly distinctive. Unlike the semi-transparent Le Roi est Mort, Vive le Roi! sleeve (1997) I don’t think the intended effect is really achieved.

Let’s pause for a moment and contemplate In the Shadow, In the Light. Just because it’s the best track on the album, and is entirely deserving of a bit of extra contemplation. It may not be up to the standard of the first few albums, but that’s OK – he’d been churning out that monk-based stuff every year or so for a decade and a half. Ignore that, and this track is very good indeed. The vocal is from Andru Donalds, another of his regular collaborators.

Then you get the pointless and dreary sound of Weightless and The Piano, and finally you’ve made it to the last track, Following the Sun. For this one he brings back Ruth Ann for another outing. Again, the lyrics are largely drivel (“Following the sun, the golden one,” seems an unnecessary distinction given the number of suns that most people revolve around), but the melody is good, and it’s a nice enough song. And after that, the album is over already.

It’s difficult to say exactly what went wrong with Voyageur, but it certainly seems to have missed its mark in a very significant way. I suspect the fairest thing to say would be that this one is for completists only.

You’re probably best to go with the download version of Voyageur if you really want it, as the CD has become rather expensive. Start here.

Live – Best of the Festivals 2013

This month, with summer coming in the northern hemisphere, we take a look at the best of the summer festivals in 2013, with a focus on the sort of music that we like to listen to on this blog. Here are five choices, in chronological order:

Electric Daisy, Las Vegas, 21-23 June

If you can bear a week in the desert at 40°C and near enough 0% humidity, here are some of the artists performing this week in Las Vegas:

  • Booka Shade
  • Empire of the Sun
  • Eric Prydz
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Ferry Corsten
  • Jacques Lu Cont
  • La Roux
  • Sasha
  • Tiësto
  • Tiga

More here.

Latitude, Suffolk, 18-21 July

Highlights in Southwold this year include:

  • Calexico
  • Chvrches
  • Hot Chip
  • Junip
  • Kraftwerk
  • Beth Orton

More here.

Lovebox, London, 19-21 July

A bit of crossover with the one above, but you might be able to sneak into both and see:

  • AlunaGeorge
  • Andrew Weatherall
  • Frankie Knuckles
  • Goldfrapp
  • Hurts
  • Jon Hopkins

More here.

Rewind, Perth, 26-28 July and Henley, 16-18 August

The 80s festival, about thirty years late, includes the likes of:

  • ABC
  • The B-52s
  • Go West
  • Chesney Hawkes
  • Heaven 17
  • Nik Kershaw
  • Sonia

More info on the Scottish event here, and the London one here.

Berlin Festival, 6-7 September

At the brilliant former Tempelhof Airport:

  • Björk
  • Blur
  • Boys Noize
  • Delphic
  • DJ Shadow
  • Miss Kittin
  • Pet Shop Boys

Plus DJ sets from Justice and Röyksopp.

More here.